By Editorial Team for Daily Mom.
Do you suffer from brain fog? Have you ever had days where you can’t focus? Does it feel like your mind is an internet browser, scrolling through a million open tabs? If this sounds familiar, you might be suffering from brain fog. Verywell Mind defined brain fog as feeling mentally sluggish. While it’s not a medical condition, it can be a symptom of a medical condition. The good news is, there are cures for brain fog. Stick around and learn how you can fight brain fog and improve your mental clarity.
Symptoms of Brain Fog
Banner Health listed brain fog symptoms as poor concentration, difficulty focusing on tasks, an inability to multitask, and forgetfulness. No one knows for sure how many people worldwide suffer from brain fog but studies cited on CNBC suggested that 600 million people do suffer from some form of cognitive dysfunction that could be connected to brain fog. Before we go into cures for brain fog, let’s talk about some causes.
What Causes Brain Fog?
We scoured the internet and found a list of conditions that could cause brain fog. According to an article published on Healthline causes of brain fog include stress, sleep deprivation, and medication. Harvard Health Publishing mentioned concussions, chemotherapy, and the use of certain medicines as other causes of brain fog. Medical News Today noted that medical conditions such as depression, PTSD, ADHD, and anxiety can also cause brain fog. They referenced a study that found when participants were given tasks intended to induce anxiety they had difficulties completing other easy tasks. One explanation for this is that when people are anxious, they use more mental energy on everyday tasks.
Our research found that anxiety and depression are the two biggest culprits that cause brain fog but we found one other interesting and recent cause of brain fog. Over the last two years, brain fog and COVID have been connected. Harvard Health Publishing reported that among the COVID patients who were treated at a cognitive clinic in Boston, 22%-32% of those patients complained of symptoms of brain fog. These patients were a combination of individuals who were hospitalized with COVID-19 as well as those with less severe cases who were able to stay at home.
When to See A Doctor About Cures for Brain Fog
Because so many medical conditions can cause brain fog, it’s important to keep your symptoms in check and know when it’s time to see a doctor. Medical News Today reported that occasional brain fog is common and nothing to worry about. However, if the brain fog persists for some time and individuals find they are unable to complete daily tasks, it might be time to see a doctor. If you find that your memory retention is declining and you’re experiencing increasing amounts of anxiety, those are also indications that you need to see a doctor.
10 Ways to Beat Brain Fog
Assuming that you’re suffering from brain fog that’s not caused by a more serious medical condition, there are cures for brain fog you can try at home. Although, before trying any of these cures, we think it’s best you still reach out to your doctor and let them know what’s going on, to be safe. That being said, here are some natural remedies for brain fog.
1. Bed Time Routine
Are you sleeping at night? How well are you sleeping at night? If you’re not getting enough quality sleep every night, that could be one reason you’re suffering from brain fog. Hackensack Meridian Health reported that poor sleep routines are the number one cause of brain fog. A consistent bedtime routine is at the top of the list as one of the cures for brain fog. Try going to sleep at the same time every night and make sure you’re getting at least 7-9 hours of sleep.
Additional recommendations listed by The National Sleep Foundation for improving your quality of sleep include investing in comfortable bedding. Use pillows that support your neck and sleep on a mattress that supports your back. One final recommendation is to make use of a small fan or a white noise machine to help block out sounds that might startle you awake.
Thorne, a health and wellness company specializing in vitamins and supplements, can’t say enough wonderful things about exercise. In addition to some of the more popular reasons to exercise, such as maintaining and improving your overall health and reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression, exercise is also one of several cures for brain fog. What is it about exercise that helps boost your brain function? Excellent question
When it comes to fighting brain fog, you need to keep your hippocampus – not to be confused with hippopotamus – happy. According to the National Library of Medicine, the hippocampus is a part of the brain known for learning and memory. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) suggested five easy exercises anyone can do to help boost brain function and keep your hippocampus as happy as a hippopotamus swimming in a river. As is always the case, if exercise isn’t already part of your routine, check with your doctor before trying any of these. The five exercises include yoga, weight lifting, and aerobic exercises.
Make your hippocampus happy, healthy and large! The AARP noted that older adults who don’t exercise have a smaller hippocampus compared to older adults who exercised daily. Exercises such as aerobics, weight lifting, and even Tai Chi work to keep the hippocampus from shrinking. If you really want to rock your hippocampus, Tai Chi is especially helpful. Older adults who included Tai Chi in their daily routine also showed improvement in reasoning, planning, and problem-solving.
3. Venture Outdoors
Spending time outdoors is one of our favorite cures for brain fog. An article published by Journey recommends spending at least 30 minutes outside every day to improve mental clarity, especially if you have brain fog. Why? Because the sun sends a message to your brain to release serotonin. Serotonin makes you feel happy and when you’re happy, you’re more likely to have and maintain mental clarity. The next time you’re at work, consider taking a walk outside on your lunch break – even if it’s just a walk to your car and back. It might be the best way for you to clear your head during the work week.
A healthy diet is essential to curing brain fog. There’s a good food list and a bad food list. If your diet consists mostly of food on the bad food list, you might want to cut back. Harvard Health Publishing listed several foods that are great for overall brain function. On that list is fatty fish – such as salmon, cod, and tuna. It is recommended you eat fatty fish at least twice a week. Other foods listed include green leafy vegetables, berries, and walnuts.
Sugary drinks – like sodas and energy drinks; foods high in refined carbohydrates and any food that has a high glycemic index are all on Healthline’s list of bad foods for your brain. The Cleveland Clinic specified processed foods, fast foods, and anything you buy from a bakery as the biggest offenders.
Anything on the whole food list might be your best bet if you’re looking for cures for brain fog. They’re not processed and are likely to fall on the low glycemic index list. Although we’re not suggesting you swear off juicy hamburgers and pizza entirely. Moderation is always key.
5. Try Intermittent Fasting
In addition to eating healthier, how often you eat could play a factor in curing brain fog. The Holistic Psychologist noted that fasting reduces inflammation and can help prevent certain diseases such as Alzheimer’s as well as thwart brain fog. As intimidating as fasting sounds, there are many different fasting windows ranging from 16-hour fasts where breakfast is usually skipped; to 20-hour fasts where only one meal is eaten during the day. Ambitious intermittent fasters or individuals who are insulin resistant may even opt for alternate day fasting (ADF). The most common fasting window for ADF is 36 hours.
Also on the list of cures for brain fog is meditation. The experts at Yoga Medicine believe that regular meditation is one of the best practices for alleviating brain fog. Why? Yoga Medicine stated that meditation is well known for alleviating stress – one of the biggest causes of brain fog. They listed several different meditations individuals can try to help clear their heads. They suggested trying meditations such as mindful breathing and mantras to help regain focus.
7. Take A Power Nap
If you’re dragging through the day and think a little pick-me-up like coffee might help clear your head, think again! WebMD advised- whenever possible – people take a power nap to reclaim their mental clarity. But how long do you need to nap to clear up brain fog? WebMD noted different naptime lengths for different cognitive needs. For example, if you’re a piano player or administrative assistant, a 20-minute nap will help you stay on key or reduce the number of typos you make. If you’re a manager, a naptime window of 30-60 minutes will help boost your decision-making abilities.
8. Slash Screen Time
An article on Functional Neurology that was published on LinkedIn, found that people who spend a significant amount of time on screens, cell phones, and social media, are more prone to depression and anxiety. As previously mentioned, anxiety and depression are two culprits that can trigger brain fog. If brain fog is a problem, consider cutting back the amount of time you’re on a device to six hours per day. If you’re up to the challenge, cut off all screentime during the weekends or your days off to give yourself a mental boost.
Hackensack Meridian Health suggested avoiding screen time before you go to bed. If bedtime is 10:00 pm, what time should the screens be turned off? We’re so glad you asked. The National Sleep Foundation recommended turning off all screens including televisions, cell phones, tablets, video games, and even e-readers one hour before your bedtime. If reading is something you enjoy doing before bedtime, try an old-fashioned book.
9. Get Creative
It might surprise you to learn this but several hobbies are great as cures for brain fog. One such hobby is writing. Whether it’s creative or just a journal of your day-to-day activities, The Adroit Journal recommended writing every day to help clear your mind. They also noted that journaling has proven benefits for reducing anxiety and depression, and can help improve your memory because whatever you write down helps your brain process the information.
Another hobby that can help clear brain fog is painting. Flavours Holidays put together findings from research that showed seven psychological benefits to painting. Improving memory and concentration are among those benefits. Research has shown that whenever individuals paint, they’re exercising the parts of the brain responsible for memory retention and concentration. Flavours Holidays also noted that painting can help reduce depression and anxiety – two big triggers of brain fog.
Combe Grove Estate found that gardening is beneficial to cognitive health. Individuals who spend time outside every day tending to their garden improved their brain development. They also noted that gardening is excellent for reducing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some participants in this research study also mentioned feeling more confident and motivated on a day-to-day basis.
10. Create A Clear Space
One of the more surprising cures for brain fog we found was cleaning up a cluttered space. If your mind is foggy, take a look around at your workspace. Is it cluttered? Do you have piles of paperwork on your desk? Is it hard to find things? If so, the experts at Saranga Comprehensive Psychiatry recommend decluttering your workspace as one way you can clear your head. A disorganized workspace can have a profound effect on how our brains process information.
Clutter can cause unnecessary distractions that make us lose our focus. Cleaning your desk up and organizing your workspace will help you stay on track and focused on the task at hand. Set aside some time at the end of your work day to put everything away in its designated space. When you return to work, you’ll be all set to start your day with a clear head.